Posted in Beauty, Explaining the Strange Behavior, Howling Sea Lane, Women

Peacocks and Pea Brains


Ladies, when men like Joe Peacock self-identify as jackholes through their derisive ranting about women who aren’t exactly like what they think women should be like, or who don’t act exactly as they think women should act, don’t be offended.  Be thankful.  He has weeded himself out of polite society and the dating pool, as have his hangers-on. 

What I find really amusing about the Booth Babe rant is that he is angry at good looking women for putting on costumes to get attention at comic conventions.  You’re only allowed to wear a costume if you are a Level 24 magic dwarf with the Flaming Sword of Moronico and 1500+ hours of WOW under your belt in the past 2 month period.  You may not wear a costume and attend a con if you just happen to like the costume, dressing up, and hanging out with other likeminded cosplayers.  No cred?  No costume for you!  Bless his heart. 

It’s the equivalent of saying that if you haven’t played college football and can quote stats from SuperBowl III, you shouldn’t wear a team jersey.  It is ridiculous.  It is sad.  Peacock is clearly afraid that his once underappreciated territory is going to be overrun with with Princesses, Jocks, and Socs.  In other words, Peacock is clearly afraid of being stuffed in a locker.

The thing that is supposed to be so fantastic about being an adult is no longer having to conform to the identities forced upon us by adolescence, when our brain chemistry is so awash with growth hormones that few of us can multi-task beyond being either a Goat Roper or a Goth.  God forbid you be fifteen, love the Cure and Randy Travis.  In Peacock’s world, God forbid you be a grown-up who isn’t fully devoted to the nuance of the Star Fleet uniform.  You can’t be a Geek and a Princess at the same time.

Although, there is great potential for Geek/Furry crossover if you’re into Ewoks.

Anyway:  Don’t be mad at Mr. Peacock.  His name is indicative of his issues.  Especially if it’s his joystick he uses for thinking.

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Posted in Explaining the Strange Behavior, Howling Sea Lane, Inside Lane, Lancient History

…but Bad Girls Go Everywhere


Suddenly, my child who was wearing a 4T, this time last year, is fitting well into a child’s size medium t-shirt.  This time last year, he wore an extra-small, and that was roomy.  This time last year, he was still wearing some of his old 3T shorts without issue.  Those toddler days are long gone.  By the time the school year rolls around, he’s going to be 6 feet tall!  And speaking of school…

Today, I read something that amounted to this:  Boys are better at solving problems/taking on learning challenges than girls because boys are encouraged to “try” whereas girls are encouraged to “be”.  That is, girls more often receive encouragement and praise for innate qualities (like prettiness, or goodness, or sweetness), whereas boys more often receive encouragement and praise for qualities that require practice and learning (like thinking, or physical activity).  While the crux of my personal experience does not support the article, that has a lot to do with having had a largely non-coed education.

Until 7th grade, I was either in all-girls school, or my classes were segregated by gender.  Through 5th grade, the boys and girls at my school were taught in separate classrooms.  We might have passed each other in the hallways, but the only time we mixed were for field trips or the class play.  Thus and so, I never experienced the grade school phenomenon of being treated differently because of my gender.  If there was competition to be had it was strictly based on ability, or potential ability.

Then again, I wasn’t a “good” girl in school.  I was a talker, and a balker, and a doodler, daydreamer, eyeball roller.  I wasn’t praised for my goodness because it just didn’t exist.  I wasn’t praised at school for prettiness–there were plenty of prettier girls in my grade anyway.  I wasn’t praised at school for sweetness.  Quite the contrary. 

When I received praise at school, it was for completing tasks ahead of expectation, for excelling at writing or singing, or for giving it my all even when success wasn’t an option (that was phys ed, and that’s pretty much what one of my phys ed teachers wrote in a grade school yearbook!)  But my school and my class were filled with extraordinary girls.

Sarah was an accomplished dancer by the time we were 3rd graders.  Lena could draw with amazing talent.  Helen was on her way to Junior Wimbledon.  Danielle was a violin virtuoso.  Laurel, a few grades ahead, hadn’t even started dancing before 7th grade, and ended up a principle dancer in a ballet company.  My classmates were all girls who did things.  And, I really can’t remember any of my teachers, though 6th grade, who gave us kudos for being quiet*, or nice, or anything other than for being the type of students they thought we should be.

I went to mixed schools for 7th and 8th grades, and 11th and 12th grades.  I think I had been well enough insulated from gender discrimination that when it happened, I didn’t recognize it for what it was.  When I was passed over, or ignored in favor of boys (and I was), I figured it was because I hadn’t asserted myself well enough, or proved myself–that just made me go into overdrive in the classroom. 

Then, I had teachers in those grades tell me to be more ladylike.  Teachers in those grades suggested that I was way too assertive, and two of them (both male coaches, one in 7th and one in 11th grade, who were teaching regular classes) told me that I needed to dial it back a notch because I was making a few of the boys feel bad (and in one case it led to a period in the gym, allowing the students to make grade points with free throws, and the coach asking me how it felt to be bad at something.  ???  Yeah, my mother had a field day with that one.  –Fortunately, I’d already had 6 years of knowing I was pathetic at sports to support me.)  I wasn’t the smartest girl, but I was apparently the most obnoxious! 

I never felt bad when I wasn’t the prettiest or the sweetest.  I knew I wasn’t the prettiest!  Or the sweetest.  I was horrified, though, when I felt I wasn’t smart enough, or able enough.  And I was mystified when my ability was confused with my lack of adorability, and I was penalized for not being a darling.

I had the great fortune to be educated by strong women, and educated to be a strong woman.  It wasn’t until I was in public school that the question of whether or not I would be a “good” woman came into play.

“Good” women, like the Proverbs 31 woman, literally do it all while their husbands reap all the benefit of praise at the city gates.  And “good” women smile beatifically at the fact that their husband is considered rich for their woman’s work.  I can’t even type that without my right eyebrow inching higher and my nostrils flaring.  BS!  I’ll do it all, but ain’t nobody gonna take the credit for it but me!

And if I’m working as hard as that Proverbs 31 woman?  My husband better be busting his chops, too.  Hanging around at the city wall telling his friends how great my garden grows won’t cut it.  I expect an equal partner, who is just as willing to weed and rake as I am**.

I will never be a “good” girl, and I’m proud of that.  Pretty fades into oblivion.  Sweet is overrated.  Praise your girls for being great thinkers, great problem solvers, great challenge over-comers, for having good reasoning abilities, and common sense, AND for being pretty, and kind to others, and respectful, and considerate, AND for being true to themselves, and pursuing their dreams, and for striving to get what they want for themselves–if it’s reaching for the next A, or the newest Barbie–encourage them to dream, then put legs to those dreams and run toward them.  They’ll learn to run fast enough that the naysayers and sexist twerps will just be a blur in their peripheral vision.

*By quiet, I mean unassuming.  We were encouraged to be assertive, and even a little aggressive.  Field Hockey was a big deal, after all.

**And I have that equal partner.  I am extremely fortunate.

Posted in Explaining the Strange Behavior, Family, Howling Sea Lane, Inside Lane, Lancient History, relationships

Dress Boxes in my Mind


One of the things I like about Thor’s pediatrician is that before she does any part of an examination that requires touching below the belt, she says to him, “Thor, I am about to examine your privates.  It is okay for me to examine them because I am your doctor, and because your mother is in the room with me.  If anyone else asks to look at, or touch your privates, you tell them no, and you tell your mom and dad.  These are your private areas, and no other grown-up should ever ask to look at, or touch them.  And no other grown-up should ever ask you to look at, or touch their privates.  Okay?”  And then she does the exam, and as she completes it, she reiterates that it was okay because it was for his health and because I was there to make sure he was protected, and that no other grown ups should be putting their hands on him. 

I like that because the first time it happened, he was barely five, in kindergarten, and it gave me an excellent lead in to having deeper discussions with him.  “Remember when Dr. H said…”  And it helped me give him gentle information to protect himself at an age when he could completely understand the concept.  No longer a baby in diapers, or a toddler/pre-schooler in a daycare setting where I trusted the staff, he was on his own as a child in a school full of people I didn’t know, in bathrooms alone, going on field trips with strange adults, and in classes with children who may have already been hurt by someone else.

A recent event made me question whether or not I had given Thor enough information, so I struck up a conversation with him that started with, “Remember when Dr. H said…” and wrapped up with, “Do you know that sometimes other children might ask to look at, or touch your privates?  And that it is okay and good to say no to them, too?”  He was quiet for too long, and gave me side-eye from the passenger seat.

“Yes,” he finally said.

“Has that ever happened to you?” I asked, glad for the years of acting that kept my voice light.

He considered, again for too long.  “No.”

“Has another child asked you to look at, or touch him or her?”

And, bingo.  Yes, that had happened as recently as I thought it might have.  He was stoic about it.  Said that it had made him feel a little funny and he thought it was weird, but he said no because–gross.  I agreed.  Ew!  Germs!  We laughed.

Then, we talked about how some kids are curious and don’t have the same idea of privacy, and that doesn’t make them bad kids, but those are still his private areas, and not for anyone else to fool around with.  And, I told him if he ever felt worried or afraid to say no, he could use me as an out, and say that his mother told him he wasn’t allowed to do x, y, or z because it was germy–and we both laughed again. Ew!  Germs!  I try to keep it light.  Those little shoulders are too small for it to be heavy.

I was younger than Thor the first time I was bad-touched.  I remember it like this:  I was wearing my new underwear and a man’s voice told me to take off my panties.  I was confused and embarrassed.  I climbed into a dress box, pulled the lid over top of me, and shut myself in to hide.  Once I was in the dress box, the man insisted I take off my panties.  I was afraid to take them off, but I peeled them back to let him look.  It happened three times, then he told me what a bad, dirty girl I was–that seemed like a horrible trick to play for my cooperation.  If I told, everyone would know I was bad and dirty.  And then he went away, and I got out of the box.

It’s a memory I didn’t talk about openly until last year because it has never made sense to me, and because I had an extreme sense of shame attached to it.  From that day, I thought I was a dirty, bad girl, and I was obsessed with nudity–something else I kept a secret.  I thought that the incident was proof that something was wrong with me, and throughout my childhood, I honestly believed I had been visited by The Devil because I was so evil. 

As a grown-up, I understand disassociation, and I understand that when a child can’t make sense of a traumatic situation, they might build a situation that does make sense–I couldn’t tell you who the man was, or what the man looked like.  I couldn’t tell you who the voice belonged to.  I could just tell you exactly where I was, exactly what I was wearing, exactly how my hair was styled, exactly what he said to me, and how the dress box seemed to appear out of nowhere.  In my case, what made sense to me was hiding in a dress box from Kirvin’s–a store that was a thousand miles away. 

Because of that, and subsequent abuse by a babysitter–something else I didn’t really talk openly of until last year–I have no idea what is normal childhood curiousity, versus traumatized child curiousity.  It is very important to me that Thor never feel ashamed of his body, or ashamed of having natural curiousity about his, or other people’s bodies.  It is important to me that he never feel dirty or bad.

It is also very important to me that Thor understands healthy boundaries, that he knows it is okay to wonder and be curious, but not okay to ask for access to anyone else’s bits.  It is okay to ask questions–it’s great to ask questions!  But you need to ask the right people.  I want bodies to be as normal and casual as hair.  We’ve all got it, but we all style it a little differently, and it’s only okay to touch it, sniff it, or ask questions about it in certain situations.

Exploration of self and sexuality is part of life, even way before we attach any notions of desire to it.  I just don’t want Thor to be in positions where someone else, more precocious and more prepared, pushes him off cliffs he’s not yet ready to dive.  I don’t want any dress boxes in his head.

Posted in 2the9s, Advice, Explaining the Strange Behavior, Howling Sea Lane, music, parenting

Do You Think I’m Sexy?


You know I can’t resist a challenge, so when Mommyfriend posted about the Nickelodeon ParentsConnect Sexy Mama Month, I had to step up to collect my (hopefully well-earned) badge, and nominate a few ladies whose sexiness is undeniable.  But first, in the interest of feminism and my own temper, let’s talk about sexy.

I was actually thinking about “sexy” this morning: what constitutes it, what it isn’t, why it is such hard word to use.  The latter was the easiest for me to answer.  Our society pushes the Virgin/Whore dichotomy on women from the earliest ages.  It’s adorable to dress your daughter in Prostitot Chic, but even while she’s bouncing her buttons off to Rhianna’s latest ode to getting the booty, she must be sure to blow the most innocent of kisses, lest you focus on her bare midriff and get the wrong idea.  As a society, we can’t decide if we want women to be independently minded regarding their sexuality, or if we want them to conform to patriarchal  ideals of chastity.  To paraphrase Tom Jones (and you should absolutely do this in any situation even remotely apropos) the ideal is someone you’d like to flaunt AND take to dinner.  Or, to quote Nikki Sixx (all my role models are rock stars),  “A woman should be a lady on your arm and whore behind the door.”

Do you have any idea how exhausting it is to attempt to fill all those roles?  And at the right times?  Lord above.  Sexy is a hard word to use because it is a major bitch to fulfill!  Now I won’t win my badge because I cursed.  But according to AskMen.com, men find dirty mouths really sexy, so maybe I’m still in!

What isn’t sexy is a trick question because there is an audience for everything.  Just watch a season of Secret Diary of a Call Girl and you’ll get filled in on folks who fancy sploshing, pony play, toilet bowl licking, and all manner of things you’d need to be either very desperate, or very bored to even imagine in the first place.  Even the star of the show, Billie Piper, is a big question mark.  I know men who find her luscious, and men who find her completely unbelievable as a sex symbol.

What we are told is not sexy is anything that does not conform to the Playboy ideal of big hair, big boobs, and a big Photoshop brush.  If it is obviously over 30 years of age, 130lbs, and/or has hips, throw it back.  We are told that sexy is young, tight, sleek, slightly moist, and ready to say yes to you, and no to everyone else.

What is actually sexy is entirely relative, and is absolutely why I will never try to fight you for your husband.  I find my husband absolutely attractive and very sexy, and I’m so blinded by all things Bryan that no one else even registers–that’s actually true, and possibly embarrassing in its schoolgirl crushiness.  But as Salt-n-Pepa said, “He keeps me on Cloud Nine just like the Temps; He’s not a fake wannabe tryin’ to be a pimp; He dresses like a dapper don, but even in jeans; He’s a God-sent original, the man of my dreams.”*

Sexy is difficult to pin down because it means so many different things to so many different people.  So while some might find the ParentsConnect Sexy Mamas Month icon picture of a thin, mostly naked woman, jumping on a bed sexy, I find the angle of her legs alarming  because that’s not going to be a pretty landing.  I also find it insulting because it insinuates that this is what a “Sexy Mama” looks like.  And while some Sexy Mamas might look like this or better, there are hosts of brilliant and beautiful women who do not find representation here.

But I should get to the question portion of the blog, shouldn’t I?  ParentsConnect asks:

  • What makes you feel sexy?
  • Who’s your sexy mama role model?
  • What’s your best tip to help other moms feel super-confident and sexy?
And The Outside Lane answers:
  1. I feel sexy all damned day long (that’s more dirty talk for the male audience.)  You know why?  Because I feel sexy when I feel powerful, and I feel powerful because of my intelligence, my wit, and my strong legs.  I feel sexy because when I walk, my posture tells you that I am force to be reckoned with, the world is my catwalk, and my theme song is The Imperial March.  When I am strutting across the office, that’s what is playing in my head.  The only times I don’t feel sexy are when I am feeling stupid over a mistake I’ve made, or when I’m bent over the backseat trying to scrub baby vomit out of the floorboard, but even then I’m aware that for some people (like the aforementioned husband) my backside is a major selling point.
  2. My imaginary sexy mama role model is Judy Dench as M in the James Bond series.  She is strong.  She is powerful.  She is a snappy dresser, and she doesn’t have to resort to flirtation to get her way. My reality sexy mama role model is Hilary Clinton.  Our politics differ, but she is strong, she is powerful, she is a snappy dresser, and she doesn’t have to resort to flirtation to get her way.
  3. My best tip to help other mothers feel sexy and confident is this:  Find your strengths and play to them.  Find your weaknesses and make peace with them.  Get yourself a theme song, and then strut because the world is your catwalk, too.
ParentsConnect also wanted to know if there were other Sexy Mamas we wanted to nominate, and why.  Here are a few of mine:
  • Jamie of A Dash of Domestic, who is strong, powerful, a snappy dresser, and who makes managing a home economy look easy.  She is huge-hearted, giving, and does her utmost to mentor her fellow women into more successful lifestyles.  Sharing is sexy.
  • Krista of One & Four, who is strong, powerful, a snappy dresser, and who is one of the best graphic artists I know.  She has battled just about everything life can throw at you with bravery and grace, and is making the world a better place for four very lucky men.
  • Arwen, of ArwenBicknell.com, who is strong, powerful, a snappy dresser, and who makes Having It All look like a piece of cake, even when she’s stuck in traffic for eight hours in a snowstorm.  Actually, Arwen is probably my real Sexy Mama role model.  If I weren’t so lazy, I might have a shot at molding myself in her image, alas.
  • Gina, who doesn’t have an open blog yet, but who should because she is strong, powerful, a snappy dresser, and an example of how Single Parenting is not only just okay, but can produce excellence, intelligence, and massive contribution to society.
  • Irene, who also needs an open blog, though the world might not be ready to laugh that hard.  She is also strong, powerful, and a snappy dresser.
  • As are June, Amy, JulieAnne, Emily (who might just become Thor’s Sexy Mama-in-Law one day) and a score of other women who haven’t taken to the internets yet.
Sexy, to quote Fun Boy Three, ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it.  And that’s what gets results.

So, ParentsConnect, I humbly submit myblogself for your perusal, not unlike one of Littlefinger’s girls in his King’s Landing brothel.  Check me out.  Judge the straightness of my teeth, the curve of my lips, the heft of my–well, let’s not get too close.  We’ve only just met.  But let me know, as Rod Stewart so prophetically asked, “Do ya think I’m sexy?”

*I would have chosen the lyrics in verse 4, but my dad reads this.

Posted in Howling Sea Lane, Religion, Uncategorized

You Can’t Have the T Without the A…or the V


In 1995, I was cruising toward the zenith of my zealotry, which crested in 1998.  I was 24-years-old and working for a major banking institution (you’d know it–they advertise everywhere.)  This bank, we’ll call Pursue, was a partner with the United Way, and every year there was an awesome party to kick off the employee giving campaigns.

I had worked for Pursue for two years at that point, and had enjoyed those parties massively.  The swag was always a nice perk, and at my just-above-minimum-wage salary, any perk was welcome.  One year we got lottery ticket scratch offs, and I won $100.  Do you know what $100 means to someone who makes $7.15 an hour?!

Somewhere between 1995 and 1996, Focus on the Family started to wage a real campaign against the United Way, citing that they gave money to Planned Parenthood, and Planned Parenthood performed abortions.  I had eschewed the secular in favor of strictly religious radio programming, so while I was at work, I listened to a lot of Focus on the Family* or Bob Larson (the Rush Limbaugh of Christian radio.)  Don’t judge me.  Okay, judge me, but do it out of love.

FotF’s programming convinced me that if I gave to the United Way, I was killing babies.  I may as well have been performing partial-birth abortions with my own teeth if a cent of my UW contribution went to Planned Parenthood.  And, much as I had personally boycotted Burger King for years (because they bought their fish from Iceland, and Iceland was harpooning whales or something–I forget.  man, did I miss their chicken sandwiches!), I took a stand against the United Way.

This meant refusing to attend the awesome party Pursue was holding because I felt it was hypocritcal to refuse to support UW and still benefit from their party.  No one seemed to care much that I didn’t want to support them financially (though it was all but a corporate mandate that employees give–and I disagree with corporately mandated giving), but they freaked out that I wasn’t going to go to the party.  In fact, members of management tried to force me to go to the party.

I did not back down.  I stood my ground against HR’s directive that I was not allowed to say why I wouldn’t participate.  It got ugly, then it got better.  I was resolute.  I did not go to the United Way parties for three years, and I missed out on some unbelievable swag and more scratch offs.  Feh.

I rarely stopped to think about the good the United Way does.  I rarely stopped to think about how they fulfill their vision:  Everyone deserves opportunities to have a good life: a quality education that leads to a stable job, enough income to support a family through retirement, and good health.  I focused on a fraction of a fraction, and I missed out on the opportunity to share my pittance with others who didn’t even have that.  I focused on the possibility of abortions not yet provided and ignored living, starving children.  Just like Jesus!  Ugh.  Jesus was all, “Girl, don’t look at me.”

It would be years before I would even allow myself to consider the good work that Planned Parenthood does.  Yes, they do provide abortions.  They also provide many other services to women and girls, who otherwise could not afford medical care.

From Wikipedia, some numbers:

[Planned Parenthood] serve[s] over five million clients a year, 26% of which are teenagers under the age of 19.[36] According to Planned Parenthood, 75% of their clients have incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.[35]

Services provided at locations include contraceptives (birth control); emergency contraception; screening for breast, cervical and testicular cancers; pregnancy testing and pregnancy options counseling; testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases; comprehensive sexuality education, menopause treatments; vasectomies, tubal ligations, and abortion.

In 2009, Planned Parenthood provided 4,009,549 contraceptive services (35% of total), 3,955,926 sexually transmitted disease services (35% of total), 1,830,811 cancer related services (16% of total), 1,178,369 pregnancy/prenatal/midlife services (10% of total), 332,278 abortion services (3% of total), and 76,977 other services (1% of total), for a total of 11,383,900 services.[35][7][37][38][39][40] The organization also said its doctors and nurses annually conduct 1 million screenings for cervical cancer and 830,000 breast exams.

So what we’re looking at is 26% of services for cancer related issues, pregnancy, prenatal, or midlife services and care.  70% of services are related to the prevention of unwanted pregnancy, and the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted disease.  96% of what Planned Parenthood does is directly related to women’s health, unborn baby health (because sexually transmitted diseases affect those guys, too!), and the avoidance of abortion through birth control.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation has the market cornered on cancer donation.  And, also from Wikipedia, “have been caught up in the controversy over “pinkwashing“—the use of breast cancer and the pink ribbon by corporate marketers, especially to promote products that might be unhealthful—in return for a donation to the cause. Komen benefits greatly from these corporate partnerships, receiving over $55 million a year from them.[61] However, critics say many of these promotions are deceptive to consumers and benefit the companies more than the charity.[62]”  

I’ve never been a big Komen fan, but have sponsored friends and family who have walked in the Race for the Cure.  No matter how commercial I find their message, I’m all for anything that is working to keep my family and friends alive.

Komen has done some wonderful things, including supporting Planned Parenthood, making it possible for them to provide 170,000 clinical breast exams, and 6,400 mammogram referrals in the past five years.  That’s somewhere around 200,000 women the Komen foundation touched in a real way.

Look.  I told you this story so that you understand that I have been on both sides of this coin.  I have been so zealously opposed to abortion (and choice, let’s be honest) that I would not support an organization whose work includes feeding and clothing, educating and advocating for the children who WERE NOT aborted.  I was so blinded by an nth of a percent out of religious righteousness that I ignored the screaming need of men, women and children who are already with us, and already in great distress.

I am 100% pro-choice.  It is my heart’s desire that abortion never be a wanted option, but so long as there are humans in the world, there will be imperfections (ill-health, rape, careless teenagers) and choice is valid.  We should work toward a world where every child is wanted, where women do not have to worry about considerations in the event of pregnancy due to rape or incest, where women’s health has improved to the point that we can save both mothers and children.

We help women, children, and the unborn when we support programs that offer preventative treatment and care, that offer contraception and education, and that provide healthcare to those who would not otherwise have access to it.  We help women, children, and the unborn when we support organizations like Planned Parenthood.  Which is why I have taken the amount of money I have spent previously sponsoring walkers in the 3-Day Race for the Cure and pledged it to Planned Parenthood this year.

*Focus has done a lot of good things.  I don’t want you to think I’m throwing any babies out with my bathwater.  I appreciate James Dobson on a personal level for giving my mother some parenting instruction she had lacked, and for giving me some tools to make it through my teen years.